Peroxide Brain

By: Holly Yates

Content Warning

I bend my arms up and inject the needle into my right pupil

life is so much fun when every breath tastes of bleach

does god laugh at my unmistakable, beautiful insanity

as I’m hands deep in this little make-shift lobotomy?

I know they’re all on the stakes again, too many saviors

standing over bodies and I can’t feel where I put all the bandages


doctor! doctor! attendant! you will surely need more dressings

because blood always streams downward from the eyes

did Jesus die for men in lab coats carrying pills, self-proclaimed liberators?

my brain oozes in my bare hands with all its eroded peroxide

in the end nothing matters except  psycho-drama, psycho-surgery

watch me as I extract my misery because they name it hysteria


I take the tissue and place it in the landfill of mental disorders

I remove the rod, and ask myself: when did I fix myself with plaster?

I glued myself together, but never get it right with each leucotomy

tell me, mother, sister, father, brother, where am I? and can you even see me?

I’m tired of fallen angels, I’ve already fallen on the filthy floor, praying for light

parts of me in arms of scalpels when I just want arms of an embrace


so I’m here moving my tongue but no one hears me scream out:    s a v e m e

I can see God spelled backwards in the words attendants use for depression

the black dress of an attendant blurs, I see her big eyes in fluorescent gleam

she pulls out a needle from her pocket, syringe stuck full of glue

injections never change because tears still reflect inside mirrors

doctor knows, attendant knows, precision proves hard in a 300 second procedure


strange and stranger to think doctors won’t ever request lobotomies

attendant injects needle into my arm but I’m full of novocaine and don’t want help

I stare at the pools of blood on the floor, surely they will need more bleach

but you can only find it inside of me because I’m doused with pure insanity

so take apart my head and say it’s alright because doctors here use sterile gauze

maybe I’m just a little girl soaked in screams and God never even notices


but I’m laughing because God is dead and no one cares because believing is seeing

which one sounds the best, transorbital, lateral, frontal, prefrontal?

I’m only asking because this morgue needs more press coverage and bandages  

and everyone around me is sewed together, their outside haphazardly salvaged

I hear them scratching inside chrome compartments and scraping their rotten minds

except I’m laughing and crying because I force- feed myself expired peroxide


and lobotomy is the only word that matters in this story, it pierces the white of my eye and I saved the doctors all the trouble, keep all that precious plaster! for I’ve already taken myself apart, brain underneath floor, because I won’t let them touch my mental disease anymore.



In Case

By: Casey Chiang


I heard him storming up the stairs in a clamor, the shrill clap of the bathroom door thundering through the walls. The sound resonated throughout my body and came to rest in the center of my constricting chest, suddenly heavy with the weight of worry and wariness. The urge to follow him was there, but the trail he left in his wake was charged with rage that threatened to shock any who came near.

But it wasn’t as if I had a choice. Blood tied me to obligations I couldn’t bring myself to abandon.

Anticipation and anxiousness mingled frantically in the pit of my stomach as I ascended the stairs, my steps light and limbs shaking. It must have been another fight with our mom. Probably about an assignment, a test, or something to that extent; it made no difference. Their bouts always ended catastrophicallymy brother too ashamed to admit his handicap, my mother unknowing of how to help him, and fury sparking between them.

And me. Always caught in the middle. Pulled into a fight that had nothing and everything to do with me. Always thrown in abruptly without a strategy, or even a side to call my own. Instead I flitted between the two, but my lack of commitment only meant my relevancy remained subjective, and today, in my brother’s eyes, I didn’t know where I stood.

Moments later I found myself staring at a closed door, the frustrated weeps that poured out from the room only slightly muffled by the wooden barrier.

“Leave me alone!” his strangled shout ordered, and I found myself absently surprised that he even knew I was there. But instead of complying I pushed forward, opening the door to reveal his distraught face; his features scrunched up in an ugly scowl and his eyes leaking tears that coaxed my own, though I fought to keep them contained.

His misery seemed so misplaced in that bathroom – a place that to me had always represented bubbles and baths, childhood and glee. At surface level, everything appeared the same. There were the same high ceilings, the same bright lights, the same peeling wallpaper and the same ceramic tub. The large mirrors that lined the walls reflected back the playfulness of the past, but in that moment, the tempestuous aura my brother emitted seemed to draw the walls in closer and bullied innocence into the corner.

I tried to argue my mother’s point in a softer way, recounting loaded words that turned hollow with repetition.

“She’s just worried about you,” I said.

“She’s trying to help, but doesn’t know how,” I said.

“Just tell her if you’re struggling. Don’t hide it.”

Even to my own ears the arguments sounded weak in comparison to his earnest wails that beseeched me to leave him in the comfort of isolation.

But ultimately it made no difference what he wanted. Only that I selfishly needed to stay by his side, fear cementing my feet where they stood. He was hysterical; unstable. I needed to be there. Just in case.

Eventually, the words I was spouting died in my throat, but I didn’t move a muscle.  His eyes told me that he knew what I was thinking, and that he resented me for it. The longer I stood there, the hotter his anger became.

Silence is a language rarely mastered, but in that moment, the translation was written all over my face.

“I’m not going to kill myself,” he spat when I failed to speak, his voice congested with disgust and his dark eyes flashing. “Even I’m not that fucked up.”

I flinched. I’d never heard that word pass his lips, and its presence lingered in the air between us. That image I had of him in my head, the one of him as my annoying little brother who liked to pull on my ponytail and had the loudest screeching laugh that I’d ever heard, fractured just a little bit more.

“I know,” I lied, speaking slowly, and when his head bowed down, his messy black bangs falling over his face, a tear escaped the confines of my eye. It traced down my cheek in mock comfort and I wiped it away furiously, swallowing around the swell in my throat before speaking again. “If you just tried taking your medicine, maybe—”

“I don’t want to take the medicine!” he erupted past chapped and trembling lips. His sobs grew hitched as he looked up to lock my gaze with his. I watched as his expression broke and when he spoke again his voice was raw with naked emotion. “It makes me feel tired all the time,” he confessed.

Those words finally cracked my stubborn façade of composure as I allowed the tears to spill, the salty taste of them slipping into the corners of my mouth.

His voice came again. Quieter this time. “I never feel truly awake anymore.”

His admission was my final silencer, my mouth opening and closing helplessly, trying to grasp something, anything, to say. But the words refused to come. With my tongue effectively tied, I clamped my mouth shut and the door soon followed. As soon as the small click that marked my retreat sounded, my brother’s weeps resumed and I joined him on the other side. My legs gave out as I slid down the wall and onto the floor, my face crumbling into my shaking hands.

There was more to do, but I didn’t know how to go about doing it, and I don’t think I ever will. In that moment, all I could do was sit there with my eyes closed and ears open. For however much the sound of his misery grated at my heart and mind, I needed to be there.

Just in case.


By: Hannah Kahn


When you leave me, I will try to remember your face in pieces.

I can only hope it will elude me in its entirety,

At least translucent im my viscous memory,

A vision of your visage dipped in sweet, sweet honey.

But I’m sure certain parts will come back to me:

The corners of your raspberry lips dripping with golden laughter,

The black curl of your hair flitted with backlit sun

And your bright eyes flicked with amber light

When they held my gaze on sticky city nights.

But honey, if I’m lucky,

Lucky like I am with you,

I will only remember your face in pieces.

The same way I shield my eyes from blazingly bright sky

To let in finger-filtered specks of finger-licking light,

Looking at you now I already know,

It will be far too painful to picture you whole.

Christopher and Ginny

By: Aberdeen Bird


They told me not to step on thistles

but proceeded to say that we have something in common

because they, too, have Scottish veins.

I wish they’d take care to not step on me, either.

Not from fear of being squished, but fear of impaling

soft, uncalloused soles that never wander down

gravel roads, barefoot in July.


I always took pride in my indifference

roaming over sharp stones

and planting roots on mountainsides

with Rudbeckia and Salix.


My mother gathers these for her brother each year

but her opponent can no longer

race to find the first blooms of the season and offer them

on her doormat in loving triumph.


There is a stone in my mother’s sewing room,

perched on the windowsill, complacent and unmoving.

Etched are the words:

“Dear Chris,

Get well soon!

I took this from the foundation of your bridge

So you better get up and go return it!”

I’ll Always Do the Small Things, For You

By: Madison Reid

This week I began to fill out my taxes for the first time and had to check a box to affirm that I am, in fact, not dead. That I am me, not a loved one tying up loose ends.

Unfinished business, it seems, isn’t reserved for superheroes and wronged lovers; I know the same hands that knead the bread I eat and pass me Christmas gifts would close my coffin and fold my clothes for the donation pile. And I theirs.

Lately, the closest I’ve been to death was a glimpse of a man, covered in cloth, carried through a Chinese village. They lit fireworks to frighten spirits and fed the living with a vengeance, so set on satiety that they scraped food from the sides of huge woks with shovels and boiled rice by the kilo.

Or in Romania last October, where the bereaved wife grieved with six lungs and everyone spent half their paycheck on the flowers. The grandmothers traded their floral kerchiefs for black ones and the mourning passed out wine and bread. To thank us for sharing their sorrow.

I am far too young to make any predictions. If I turn my head too quickly I feel my hair, soft and messy, tickle my collarbones. I watch my grandfather doubled over like the women pulling weeds along the river, pinch the fat beneath my bicep to ground myself. My aunt is doing pushups for her bone density, my mother’s hair is just starting to surrender.

But parked cars are still warm and prove something, like where you are and were and how long ago you left,

And my new friends have taught me to keep windows open and tables full,

And we pick flowers for my brother’s birthday every year, the same way my grandmother mails another a card,

And the mundane follows us, right from home to heaven. Stir the soup. Sign the forms. Buy the milk. Lend you money. Kiss you on your way out the door,

And when my grandparents die, I’ll be there to dig through their broken tapes and mourn slowly, peel photos from the bottoms of boxes,

And when my aunts and uncles die, I’ll collect their children’s children in my living room and feed them jam and honey,

And when my parents die, I’ll clean the house and sell the car, leave deeper footprints than before,

And I’m going to have to file their taxes.